USA draft in Top Gun hero to give pre-England game pep talk
Published 23:00 08/06/10 By Simon Bird
The USA have drafted in the hero helicopter pilot who inspired the film Blackhawk Down to inspire a victory over England.
Coach Bob Bradley called up legendary military man Commander Dan Jollota, and the veteran Top Gun gave the footballers a lecture in bravery and team work, passing on the US soldier's motto of "no man gets left behind."
Jollota could be the USA's secret weapon with players, including Fulham's Clint Dempsey, yesterday admitting it has given the squad a special edge in the build up to the clash with Fabio Capello's men in Rustenburg on Saturday.
Recalling lessons from of one of the US's biggest battles since the Vietnam War back in 1993, Jollota has helped mould Bradley's men into a unit who look after each other on the sporting field of battle.
The Blackhawk Down mission saw US and UN forces attempt to capture Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid in Mogadishu, Somalia. In the intense battle with local militia a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was downed and the subsequent rescue of its crew inspired the film.
The veteran has 33 years service, winning the Bronze Star Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross and Fulham star Dempsey says his contribution has been invaluable.
Eleven times NBA champion coach Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics has also spoken to the USA team.
Dempsey said: "We have had the opportunity to have some speakers come in and it has been cool. Like we had one of the pilots from Blackhawk Down come in to speak. And we had Bill Russell come in to talk to us.
"We've got to see some documentaries and things that bring the team together. It is good to do things like that.
"The speakers helped us with team bonding. They brought into reality from their experiences about coming together for one team goal. That you have to put egos aside and putting personal glory aside. It is about the team. To do the best that is what you need. Everyone on the same page."
The images of war were in contract to the idyllic scene at the US training base yesterday at Irene Farm - complete with free range chickens and dairy cows.
Dempsey also admitted some squad members visited a Lion Sanctuary this week and handled cubs - hopefully the only time they'll be taming Three Lions this week.
He said: "Some people went lion handling on the day off. I had already done that. This time I played golf and did some fishing too. We have been playing ping pong. You can play chess and plenty to keep us busy. I have played chess to show my team mates how it is done. Most guys are playing FIFA Xbox 360 against each other. I don't play it much. I like storyline games or action games.
"You can't think about being at the World Cup none stop or it would stress you out. I am someone who doesn't like to think about it all too much."